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Marketing is a critical line item in most small business budgets. You need to build and grow your brand to be successful. Some tips on how to spend that money wisely.

Having a great business idea isn’t enough in today’s competitive marketplace. You need to build a brand and effectively market your product or service to potential customers. It takes time and money, both of which are often in short supply for small businesses. Here are five tips that can help stretch your marketing dollars:

Make A Great Website (And Keep Updating It)

Most businesses today have a website. It’s one of the best places for your customers to see and learn more about your product or service. Think of it as the central hub where you can drive online consumer traffic, including from other venues such as social media sites, email, events and even bricks and mortar locations. An effective website includes more than just information about your business, but a “call to action” to get them to buy or engage with you and your products or services. Building a great website doesn’t have to be expensive, but it will take time to maintain and keep relevant and updated as your business grows.

Go Social

Social media makes it easier than ever for you to connect with customers. Similar to a website, social media doesn’t have to cost a lot, but it will take a lot of human resources. The key to managing your time, and budget, is to be selective about which sites best suit your business. For example Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest might work best for a clothing retailer, while LinkedIn and Twitter could be more useful for a consulting firm. What most businesses like about social media — other than the direct engagement with customers — is the ability to track and measure results using tools such as Google analytics. This information can help steer your future marketing strategies.

Don’t Forget Traditional Marketing

While social and digital channels are critical in today’s market, traditional marketing still plays an important role in your marketing mix. TV and radio might be too expensive for a small business, but don’t rule out print media, such as direct mail flyers or advertising in local newspapers and magazines. In fact, studies have shown that digital campaigns are most effective in grabbing the attention of consumers when combined with direct mail. The key is to target your campaign to a specific audience. This will not only help to reduce costs, but also get your product or service in front of the desired audience.

Network, Network, Network

Small business owners meet people all the time: customers, suppliers and anyone else they come in contact with while running their business. But who else could you meet to help manage, grow and scale your business? Networking is a great way to expand your contact list, and learn more about your business and its customers. It doesn’t have to cost much either. A lot of community events are free or include a small fee or donation. Go! You never know when that one contact will lead to a business opportunity.

Say ‘Thank You’

When you meet with a potential client or close a sale say, “thank you.” It’s best to say it in person or, alternatively, send a card, an email or a tweet. Take the time to let your customers know you appreciate their business. Often it’s the personal touch that keeps customers coming back and helps build brand loyalty.

It’s important to spend both time and money wisely to help build momentum for your business. These cost-effective marketing strategies can help you build a brand and get your business noticed quickly and efficiently.

For more tips on how you can market your business on a small budget, visit the #RBCSmallBiz Panel Discussion – Marketing on a Dime on YouTube.

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